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BARDA Venture Capital Program Dedicates Up To $500M for Pandemic Preparedness

NEW YORK – The US Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, has launched a new program to spur development of technologies to combat future pandemics and health emergencies.

For the initiative, the BARDA Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures, or DRIVe, will support the BARDA Ventures program in a partnership with the nonprofit Global Health Investment Corporation.

According to a statement from HHS, BARDA Ventures will provide GHIC with a minimum of $50 million over five years, and the potential of up to $500 million over 10 years. In turn, GHIC will launch a global health security fund with matching capital from other investors.

DRIVe was founded in 2018 and has a mission to use public-private partnerships to support the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Former BARDA director Rick Bright previously called the venture partnerships "a huge paradigm shift for government" that allows it "to invest in really early stage, transformative technologies that will improve healthcare."

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement that the new BARDA Ventures partnership is "an innovative, cost-effective approach" that puts the US "on a better path to take on the next public health crisis and improve US health care."

GHIC will now provide investment to companies developing breakthrough technologies and will structure investments with cofunding from additional private investors, according to HHS. As the technologies and companies generate investment returns, proceeds from BARDA Ventures funding will be returned to GHIC for reinvestment and sustainment of BARDA Ventures.

BARDA noted that GHIC has helped the development and delivery of more than a dozen products to address global health and pandemic threats, including diagnostics, as well as vaccines, therapeutics, and other products.

BARDA Director Gary Disbrow noted that pathogens and health security threats constantly evolve and change. "To effectively combat them, we need new and innovative ways to tap into the most novel and impactful ideas in the entrepreneurial community," he said.

Responses to two public requests for information and "hundreds of discussions with venture capital experts in the government and private sector" were used to establish the BARDA Ventures partnership model, according to the statement.

GHIC was selected as the nonprofit partnership manager due to a track record of successful venture capital investments in healthcare and life science.

BARDA has previously founded the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Accelerator partnership, or CARB-X, with the National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust, managed by Boston University.

BARDA's DRIVe program, meanwhile, is currently partnering with 37 companies through federal contracts and has a network of 13 accelerators in the US to support early-stage companies including 154 health security product developers.

Sandeep Patel, director of DRIVe, noted that the program has a track record of successful engagements with the entrepreneurial and research communities. The new initiative "engages them further to make an immediate impact on global health security," he said.